’Tis the season of giving for many folks this time of year — and why should the player characters in your campaign be left out? Here are a few ideas for special gifts, gratuities, bonuses, and benefactions you can bestow on the characters after a successful adventure leaves them in the debt of a monarch, a noble, a fey lord, a grateful dragon, or some other NPC with wealth and influence to spare. Sure, you can dish out gold and gems easily enough, but a truly memorable gift should be something the characters can cherish — and might just happen to come wrapped up a few new campaign hooks for your next adventures.
Wealthy Estate Starter Kit
The characters are bequeathed a hundred acres of “exclusive hunting estate” that turns out to be a monster-haunted bog. Time and investigation soon reveal that the livery of the numerous undead humanoids in the area suggests that those who died here generations ago were the palace guard from a distant realm that fell to invasion — and whose crown jewels were stolen away before the palace fell and never found. The characters’ new lands might just hold a missing fortune, but they’ll need to clear those lands of threats if they hope to find it.
Heirlooms of Evil
Each character receives a valuable piece of ornamental finery seemingly perfect for them (a fine cloak pin for a paladin, a jeweled scabbard for a fighter, a beautiful necklace for a stylish warlock, and so forth). The pieces all share a similar design that suggests they are part of a set, though their provenance is unknown. As it turns out, the pieces belonged to a legendary group of evil adventurers who were executed for horrendous crimes a century ago — and who managed to instill their blighted souls in each of the items so as to corrupt whoever now wears them.
The party is gifted with a special badge that allows them lifetime access to the services of any royal sage or scholar across the land. Using the badge can grant the party mundane information, advantage on checks to seek old lore, and so forth. But the badge was also once the secret sign of membership of an assassins guild that operated within the order of royal sages, using the order’s operations as cover. The characters might find themselves mistaken for members of this still-operating guild, and either recruited for a dastardly mission, or suspected of trying to infiltrate the guild and targeted for elimination.
The party is given a magical means of conveyance consistent with the campaign and the characters’ idiom — a magical wagon, a small flying ship, a number of tokens that allow each character to summon a magical steed, and so forth. Only it turns out that the conveyance was originally claimed as treasure from its extradimensional original owner — a fiend, a celestial, a fey prince, et al — and has a failsafe mode that triggers to bring the characters to the dangerous realm where that owner now dwells.
As a reward for their adventures, the characters receive a huge custom-made tapestry depicting one or more events from those adventures. The tapestry might provide some initial opportunities for planning and roleplaying as the characters try to figure out where to hang it and how to move it (with the tapestry as arbitrarily large and heavy as it needs to be to make both those things complicated). And it can then provide fodder for darker adventures as NPCs at the location where the tapestry is ultimately displayed begin to suddenly vanish — even as they appear as terrified figures within the tapestry’s epic images.
The characters receive a heroic homage in the form of a dramatic play detailing their exploits, which is to be performed over a month-long run in a major city. It might turn out that the night of the premiere before the nobility of the city becomes a night of adventure, whether from an attempted assassination against someone in the audience, or because nefarious elements plan on targeting multiple nobles’ estates while they’re all out on the town. Or it could be that a powerful villain the characters defeated but didn’t capture during their adventures plans on using the play as a kind of template to magically undo the events of the past, rewriting the play so as to rewrite history and defeat the characters.